To answer your question, astronomy has a seriously major amount of data coming from amateur astronomers. Obvious things like comet and asteroid sightings and tracking are only the start of it. Without amateurs, there wouldn't be anywhere near the amount of observational data available for professionals to use. Also, a lot of professionals became interested through amateur astronomy, and much of the funding for the professional side is an indirect result of amateur astronomy. Without it, astronomy would be dead and we'd be forever restricted to only knowing Earth.
Besides that though, I'm going to borrow a gem of a quote I found at the website of the New England Light Pollution Advisory Group:
Imagine children growing up without being allowed to see trees or birds (or any other aspect of nature): now, how is this any different from preventing our children from seeing the stars?! But by our thoughtless erection of outdoor lights everywhere --- without consideration of glare and light trespass, without consideration of safety, without consideration of the right to privacy, and without consideration of the energy waste and the waste of taxpayer dollars --- we are making it so that a very small percentage of children are able to grow up in the world today with the ability to see and ponder the wonders of our beautiful starry night sky. Indeed, after a full century now of outdoor electrical lighting, one must wonder what a lot of the lighting manufacturers and installers were thinking when they put up such glary monstrosities as now permeate our world. And there is real overkill in the shear numbers of outdoor lights now in existence! Far fewer outdoor lights are needed than are now lit every night, particularly over streets, highways, and parking lots.
I think it'd be very difficult to say it better than that. A night sky away from a city is a truly beautiful sight, one which many people have never known and many never will know because they're too busy being worried about everyday life and being denied the ability to see it by their surroundings.
jesterzog Fight the light
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